In Part 1, we discussed cleaning out old, no longer used programs and documents. Here are some more housekeeping ideas for your computer.
Next, you may want to clean up your desktop. Do you have tons of little icons all over the screen? Some people aren’t bothered by this, some people can’t stand it. Regardless, you can get a cleaner look by removing the desktop icons. Keep in mind, the icons are just shortcuts to a program. If you remove the icon, you are not removing the program itself, the only real way to do that is the method listed in part 1. If you remove the shortcut, you can always find the program by searching your Start menu or by using the Search Charm. To delete an icon, just right click and hit delete. (By the way, this does send it to the Recycle bin, so go ahead and empty that again when you are done cleaning that up.)
Similarly, you can clean up your Start Menu and/or your Apps screen. If you no longer use the programs pinned to your Start menu very often, or you have Apps on your screen you don’t want, you can right click to unpin them from that menu.
Another thing to do this time of year is to make sure your programs are up to date. This includes not only Windows updates, but also the add on programs that should be updated, like Flash and Java. It is important to keep these updated because they are often exploited by hackers and malicious software. If your Windows updates aren’t set to automatic, (which we recommend!), you should certainly check to see if those are available by searching for Update in the Start menu or Search charm, then clicking on Windows Update. In the window that pops up, click Check for Updates.
To check for updates to things like Java and Flash, you’d want to check your browser plug ins. Firefox has a built in update check, or you can check using Qualys Browser check, explained here. And if something is popping up telling you to update (for example, Adobe) and you keep ignoring it, this time go ahead and let it update.
Another thing to be certain is up to date and has been run is your antivirus and antimalware software. Make sure you’ve updated them to the most recent version, and then run a scan. Keep in mind antivirus scanners will find different things than antimalware, so you should have both installed.
Now that you’ve cleaned up a lot of programs and other items, you may want to defragment your computer. If you have Windows 8 and have never change the settings, the computer optimizes drives every week, so it shouldn’t need it. However, you can still check if it is necessary. In Windows 7, you can go to the Start button, then All programs, then Accessories. Choose System Tools and then Disk Defragmenter. You may have to enter an administrative password, then hit Defragment now. In Windows 8.1, bring up the search charm and type in defrag. Choose Defragment and Optimize your drives. You can choose to Analyze your drive to see if defragmenting is necessary. It’s only necessary if it is higher than 10% fragmented.
If your drives need defragmenting, this may take some time to complete, maybe even a few hours. But you will still be able to use the computer during the defragmenting process.
In part 3, we’ll discuss some final housekeeping suggestions.